South Florida public hospitals will get vaccine for COVID-19 in a few weeks
Jackson Healthcare and Memorial Healthcare, public-hospital systems in South Florida, will be among the first to get the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19.
Two major public-hospital networks in South Florida have been tapped to receive some of the first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine candidate, considered to be a front-runner in the fight to end the coronavirus pandemic.
Jackson Health System in Miami-Dade County and Memorial Healthcare System in southern Broward County are among a handful of providers that are working with the Florida Department of Health to help roll out about a million doses. The company’s preliminary data has shown the vaccine to be 95% effective across all age groups.
The company on Friday announced it was seeking emergency approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the first step in a process that could lead to giving vaccine doses to front-line healthcare workers as soon as next month. The vaccine could be in Memorial’s freezers by the end of November, according to Dr. Tom Macaluso, senior vice president and interim chief medical officer at the Bro
THE PFIZER VACCINE MUST BE KEPT AT VERY COLD TEMPERATURES IN SPECIAL FREEZERS.
ward hospital network.
Macaluso said on Friday that his understanding is that Florida will receive 1 million doses of the vaccine and distribute it across the state to hospitals. Those facilities would then receive another 1 million at some point for the second dosing of everyone who received the vaccine in the first round. Macaluso said both the efficacy of the vaccine and the timing exceeded his expectations.
“It’s certainly quicker than anybody thought,” he said.
A spokesperson for Jackson said that the hospital network expected a shipment in midDecember.
“During the first phase, the vaccine will be available for frontline healthcare workers in hospitals, long-term care staff and residents, and first responders,” the hospital
network said in an emailed statement.
WHO GETS THE VACCINE FIRST?
At Memorial, the hospital system is setting up a voluntary vaccination program for its employees. It would start with doctors, nurses and other healthcare staff members who work in COVID wards, then move throughout the system to other providers and highrisk patients.
“It is an emergency use authorization so we’re certainly not comfortable with mandating people take it,” Macaluso said. “That also speaks to what our demand is going to look like.”
Macaluso said the hospital network could potentially have hundreds of thousands of doses of the vaccine this winter.
The hospital network purchased two freezers, Macaluso added, in case it hadn’t distributed all of the doses from the first round of vaccination when the second doses arrived. The Pfizer vaccine must be kept at extraordinarily cold temperatures in special freezers.
For those who receive the doses, the two injections might be enough to last quite a while, according to a study indicating that the immune system’s memory of a novel coronavirus-infection could last several years, warding off future infections.
“We’re all looking for something that’s hopeful.,” Macaluso said in reference to the study. “That’s something that’s hopeful.”
Pfizer says its COVID-19 vaccine is 95% effective across all age groups.
A Jackson spokesperson said the hospital network expected a vaccine shipment in mid-December. ‘During the first phase, the vaccine will be available for frontline healthcare workers,’ the hospital network said.